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York River Project

A Film by Tom Jackson

The Little Cove Beyond the Hill: A Study of the York River in Maine


The Little Cove Beyond the Hill: A Study of the York River in Maine will be a 58 minute, independently produced documentary video. First and foremost, the beauty of the river is going to be a key voice featured prominently throughout the film. 

The four towns through which the York River runs are part of one of the fastest growing areas in the country over the past few decades. the York River is part of the commons that we all share.

Where we as Americans draw the line between private property rights and protecting the commons has always been a place of tension. Is it possible that through discussion and common ground we can work through this, or has our ability to communicate between each other become so polarized that any common ground remaining is unreachable? York has dealt with difficult issues in the past, and currently protects and shares its beauty and history in an exemplary fashion.

We will look at the capacity for community dialogue— something that, through town meetings and other means, New England has been noted for since colonial times. Can these communities communicate their ways to common ground for something that is loved by all, but which prompts disagreements as to its needed preservation or conservation?

After a look at the history of the river, including from the days before Western Europeans arrived, we will focus on a current issue: In 2014, a group of people from York, Maine attempted to persuade Congress to designate the York River as a Wild & Scenic Partnership River, in accordance with the National Park Service. The first attempt resulted in the bill stalling for lack of a sponsor in the Senate. A subsequent voter resulted in the current study of the river, without prejudice to designate or not designate all or part of the river as a Wild & Scenic river. The decision on designation will come at the end of the study when the towns through which the York River flows decide for themselves whether they want the federal designation or not.

We will hear from all voices who are willing to go on camera with us, whatever their position on the issue may be.


The York River project will follow a chapter structure.The first chapter will begin with an introduction to the river and surrounds, including its history, culture, recreation, and natural beauty. Next we’ll look at a recap of the Congressional outcome.We will then then look at the differences of opinion that may or may not prevent further protection for this area of the country, within the above-noted sub-themes. This will not be a judgmental look at either side of the arguments. Rather, it will be looked at from the perspective of common ground that could be found. The connection will be made to the many problems created by this kind of polarization in society today, thus bringing the story beyond a local disagreement on how to conserve a small river in Maine.


This story of attempting to bring people together to protect a river will be professionally narrated by either a local or national celebrity voice. Either way, the voice will be the thread that holds the program together, albeit with minimal narration.

Local acting talent will be utilized as readers for any key letters, diary entries, etc. that were created before the recording era.

Weʼll combine contemporary footage of York River and its surrounds with a wealth of archival footage, photos, artists renderings, etc. Most of the contemporary footage is being shot verite-style (with interviews mixed in), and all footage shot by our production team will be in 4K. This footage will include on-the-ground shots, shots from a boat on the river, aerial shots (in 4K) from a drone, and under water shots. We will juxtapose the positions held in the debate about whether federal protection for the land is desirable or needed.The reasons behind their disagreement will be slowly revealed layer by layer.

We hope to have original music produced for the film, possibly from York resident Harvey Reid, and others.


The dramatic rise in popularity of documentary films over the past 20 years or so has been widely noted. This production will be submitted to film festivals, and television networks, including but not limited to New England PBS channels. Content of this quality will be of interest to PBS (local and national), the History Channel, LinkTV, Free Speech TV, numerous global networks from countries outside the USA, and other networks. The film will also garner substantial interest in the educational market. Numerous organizations will also be interested and seeing and screening this documentary, including Sierra Club, Conservation Law Foundation, League of Conservation Voters, and the Nature Conservancy.

Current Status

We already have a plethora of footage shot from many angles. We have drone footage in 4K, from above the river. We have underwater footage showing lobsters, oysters, and other life on  and in the river. And we have hours of shots from various types of watercraft, showing all stretches of the river from whatever type of boat we could find!

We have completed some interviews, but this is the area of production that still has a ways to go, leading up to the most time consuming part of the process— editing. We’ve interviewed a 98 year old dock manager who has lived by the York River his whole life. We have interviewed local historians, lobstermen, a retired educator who is studying the river along with a select group of locals, and others. There’s still more to come, including any public meetings at which watershed management, including federal designation is debated.


Questions of watershed management for the York River may seem like a small local issue, but once we get inside the public debate, we see a manifestation of the current polarization among the US citizenry, and how that polarization contributes to confusion and conflict. This documentary will show how the people of York guide watershed management for their beloved river and harbor in York, Maine.


Cinematographer, Dave White has been a professional photographer for over 30 years. In the past few years, he has brought his astonishing eye and technical ability to 4K video. Take a look at his website ( and you will see a mix of photo and video projects. He has produced creative outdoor productions such as Elk Quest (shot inMontana), and corporate productions for Direct Capital, Denny’s, and others. His photography spans subjects and locations such as fly fishing on the Rapid River, Merrill’s Marauders (A group of US Army men who fought in 1944 against Japan in the jungles and wilds of Burma. Dave’s father was part of Merrill’s Marauders.), Burma, and Phillips Andover.

Cinematographer, Cindy Jupp-Jones has decades of experience producing content for NH-PBS (Channel 11 in Durham), and WMUR Channel 9 in Manchester. She has independently produced documentaries on various issues, including on Wild & Scenic designation for the Lamprey River.

Director of Photography, (including underwater) Jonathon Millman is a professional Director of Photography with more than 22 years experience in the Motion Picture and Television industries. He is a seasoned shooter for feature films, documentaries, commercials, music videos, concerts and program, live and multicamera television. His expertise includes 35mm and 16mm film formats and a wide array of HD video formats including 4K+ digital cinema and DSLR. He is an experienced underwater and aerial cinematographer.  Jonathon is conversant in Spanish and is widely traveled, having filmed throughout Central and South America, Alaska, and in Australia and the Middle East. He has an Emmy award for cinematography , photographed an Emmy winning spot in 2013, and has five Telly awards. He makes his home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and works as a local in the New York City, Los Angeles, Boston and Miami areas.

Cameraperson, Amanda Kowalski is a photographer and filmmaker who specializes in documentary style imagery and short, narrative films. In 2010 she co-founded the production company SoundLight Media with audio producer and collaborator, Samantha Broun.

Amanda’s clients have included:  The American Psychological Association, The Massachusetts Humanities Council, Massachusetts General Hospital, Universal Music, United Way, Children’s Hospital Boston, Sichuan Quake Relief, Service Employees International Union, The Maine Women’s Fund, Rounder Records, and the Maine Board of Tourism. Her work has appeared in The New York Times,, Oxford American, ABC News online,, Fast Company blog, the Fretboard Journal,,  Strings magazine, Maine Home+Design, Maine Magazine,, and others.

Assistant Editor, Mike Gillis knows Adobe Premiere better than anyone we know. Whether it’s answering any question, or color correction and sound sweetening, he knows the solution. Mike’s day job is Media Services Coordinator for the City of Dover, NH. He has worked on myriad independent film and video projects in New England for many years.

Director, Tom Jackson has directed award winning long-form documentaries which have aired onFreeSpeech TV, Link TV, and Telesur. Among his past productions are “Out of Balance” (2007), a documentary about ExxonMobil, climate change, and climate change”skeptics” ( The film aired on Telesur, which broadcasts throughout the Spanish speaking world. It aired numerous times on LinkTV, which is on both major US satellite networks. The channel also produced a special program on the documentary featuring Van Jones, and used Out of Balance as a fundraising perk during their fall 2007 fund drive. Out of Balance screened at 40+ film festivals worldwide, winningBestDocumentary-Environmental, Artivist Film Festival, Hollywood, CA (November 2007), Best of Festival, Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival, Seattle, WA (November, ʼ07), SpecialJuryAward, International Film Festival of Lifestyle, Szolnok, Hungary (Oct. ʼ07), and 2nd Place,Best International Feature, Aotearoa Environmental Film Festival, New Zealand (Julyʼ07).Out of Balance is available through NetFlix (in DVD), iTunes, and via download on the film’s website:

Associated Members

We are grateful for the generous support of our sponsors:

Massachusetts Cultural Council
Lowel Cultural Council
Cabot Family Charitable Trust
Liberty Mutual Foundation